Plein Air Painting and Iris Farm

My Landscape Choice: Plein Air Painting Workshop at Iris Farm

Back in April I got to spend a half a day doing something amazing. I attended a plein air painting workshop taught by Randy Blasquez at the Horton Farm Iris Garden in Loomis, California. The view above was my chosen landscape and I attempted to crop it down to a 12 x 8 canvas and just show the middle part. The day was warm and gorgeous, and I prudently parked my easel, Anaïs, in the shade. Something about that chartreuse tree, the lavender in the back, the dark right side, and the red-orange irises in the foreground was very attractive to me.

My Friend Jonathan Iris

Maybe it’s because these were named “My Friend Jonathan.” Jonathan is my brother’s name.

Plein Air Painting Workshop at Iris Farm

We spent about an hour or so watching our teacher Randy do a demonstration after we arrived that morning. Then we all fanned out and found our spots. I found myself struggling with wanting to paint, but also wanting to walk around and admire the irises and take photographs. I buckled down and painted for about two hours. Then I allowed myself to wander just a bit before rushing back to work on an editing project at home.

My painting from that day isn’t good, isn’t finished, and I don’t care much for it—except that I learned a lot in painting it. I learned that simpler is better, when it comes to landscapes—at least for a beginner like me. I learned that the point of painting outside is to capture colors and shapes. That the light will change while you’re painting, and your painting won’t look much like the landscape does at the time you stop. Also, I learned that my eyes worked really hard at adjusting between seeing the landscape in sunlight and seeing the painting in the shade. By the end of the day I was a trifle sunburned and my eyes were sore.

Iris Farm

No matter, though. It was a glorious day. And maybe someday I’ll work on that painting some more. Bring in more light, darken the bare ground with a warmer brown, etc. Maybe.

Mariposa Skies in Foreground

Light-and-dark blue “Mariposa Skies” was so lovely.



The farm is gorgeous in every way. Rows upon rows upon rows. I bought three irises in gallon pots that day to add to my garden: “Widdershins,” “Smoke Rings,” and “Obi-Wan Kenobi”—how could I resist? All of these are rather unusual colors for irises, which suits my garden just fine. I didn’t really have to be too choosy anyway; so many were gorgeous.


I liked this place so much I took my mom there the following weekend. No painting that time, although they were having an event for painters that weekend.


Mom and I just enjoyed wandering and admiring and iris shopping.





Surprisingly, Mom was attracted to all the purple irises that day, instead of the yellow ones. Yellow is her favorite color.


Oh, and there were super-cute goats. And a lizard. And a bunch of rusty old farm equipment! And a rundown barn. Truly a delightful place.



  • About Sara

    Thanks for visiting! I’m Sara, editor and writer, wife to Ian, and mother of two precious boys. I am living each day to the fullest and with as much grace, creativity, and patience as I can muster. This is where I write about living, loving, and engaging fully in family life and the world around me. I let my hair down here. I learn new skills here. I strive to be a better human being here. And I tell the truth.

    Our children attend Waldorf school and we are enriching our home and family life with plenty of Waldorf-inspired festivals, crafts, and stories.

    © 2003–2018 Please do not use my photographs or text without my permission.

    “Love doesn’t just sit there like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new.” —Ursula K. LeGuinn

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